TAMPA, Fla. (AP)Anthony Cirelli scored 1:58 into overtime and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 on Thursday night to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Ross Colton, Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov also scored for the Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 10 saves before being replaced by Brian Elliott, who stopped all 13 shots he faced.
The Lightning qualified for the playoffs for the eighth time in nine seasons. The two-time defending NHL champions are trying to become the first team to win the Stanley Cup three times in a row since the Islanders won four straight from 1980-83.
Adam Henrique scored twice, and Troy Terry added a goal for Anaheim. Anthony Stolarz, making his first career start against Tampa Bay, made 27 saves.
The Lightning tied the game with 12.3 seconds remaining in the third period when Kucherov’s wrist shot from the high slot sailed through traffic and past Stolarz to make it 3-all.
”The last 10 minutes of the game it seemed like we kept it simple and we had some opportunities,” Killorn said. ”Kucherov made a great shot to tie it up.”
After Killorn had an apparent overtime winner washed out because of an offside call, Cirelli won it when he was left alone to the left of Stolarz and shot the puck into a wide-open net.
”We scored more than enough goals to win tonight, unfortunately a few of them got called back,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. ”But it was how they did it in the end, and I’m so proud of the guys.”
The Ducks trailed 2-0 before scoring three unanswered goals in the second period, including two in a 22-second span. Henrique made it 2-1 at 3:42 and tied the game 2-all at 10:19, before Terry scored his team-leading 34th on a deflection at 10:41.
Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf, who announced he’ll retire at the end of the season, assisted on both goals after receiving a video tribute earlier in the game.
”I really appreciated the fans and what went on out there. It was a good, fun, hard-fought game. It was fun to be out there competing with a couple of guys I’ve played with.”
Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said Getzlaf isn’t hanging up his skates after 17 NHL seasons, all with Anaheim, because he can’t play anymore.
”I’m not sure how many times in the past that a guy said he’s going to retire, and he’s still the team’s No. 1 center, ” Eakins said. ”He’s playing like he’s our No. 1 center, and he is.”
Anaheim went 1-1-2 on a four-game trip. The Ducks made their first visit to Amalie Arena since losing 6-2 on Nov. 23, 2019.
The Lightning dominated the first period and wasted little time jumping out to a 1-0 lead. Steven Stamkos got a stick on Dominik Simon’s attempted pass and deflected the puck to Colton, who was alone in front of the net and beat Stolarz with a quick backhander at 2:37 for his 17th of the season.
The lead went to 2-0 at 16:42, when Killorn was left alone in the slot to take Cirelli’s pass and zip a wrist shot past the glove of Stolarz for his 22nd of the season and first in eight games.
The Ducks, listless for most of the first period, got a spark when Henrique scored at 3:42 of the second to make it 2-1. Kevin Shattenkirk took a shot from the right point that Henrique deflected past Vasilevskiy.
The Lightning improved to 11-3-2 against the Ducks in Anaheim’s past 16 visits to Tampa.
IN THE ”COOP”
The Lightning have qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs in eight of Cooper’s nine full seasons as coach. Overall, they’ve made the playoffs 14 times since entering the NHL in 1992.
Terry’s 34 goals are 19 more than he scored in the past three seasons combined. He had a chance for No. 35 late in the third period, but was denied by Elliott on a breakaway.
Anaheim: Host Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday in the first game of a two-game homestand.
Tampa Bay: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday in the second game of a five-game homestand.
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